Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Part 1

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

by Rev. Paul A. Hughes, M.Div

Introduction to the Series

The nature of law and commandments in the Bible has been a source of considerable confusion for Christians, well, since the first Christians — when Judaizers were telling Gentile converts they had to be circumcised to be saved.  While we are told that we are free from Moses’ Law, what moral laws remain in force?  Which laws are cultural, and which eternal?  Are we, as some say, still required to eat Kosher and keep the Sabbath?

The principal teacher on doctrine and Christian living in the New Testament was the Apostle Paul of Tarsus.  In this comprehensive review and diagram of Paul’s instructions and theology, the author hopes to clear up much of the confusion.

Overview

The conceptual diagram represents the Apostle Paul’s view of law and sin as a trinity of three spheres of influence:  (1) Moral/Natural Law, (2) Moses’ Law, and (3) Cultural Mores and Customs.  Note that these spheres overlap, sharing certain elements, aspects, and concerns.  Also note that sphere size, as depicted, is not intended to indicate relative importance.

Moral/Natural Law

The Apostle Paul believed in a set of absolute truths which form the original fabric and intent of God’s Creation (see Rom. 1:18-25, cf. Ps. 19:1-2, 97:1-6).  Creation itself is an expression of God’s eternal nature, benevolence, and order.  All that God created was perfectly good and moral, reflecting God’s own attributes, and therefore holy.  This principle applies also to the human body, which is made in the image of God (1 Cor. 11:7, Col. 3:10), and is “not for fornication, but for the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:13).  From the things created, we can all see undeniable proof of God and surmise his intent for humanity.

God’s will for man, and all that is moral and permissible, lies within the sphere of God’s Moral/Natural Law.  In contrast, all that lies outside the sphere of God’s intent is contrary to God’s nature and sovereign will, having its origin in the flesh, human imagination, or satanic deception.  Whatever is contrary to God’s nature is consequently sin.  Humanity, corrupted by the Fall of Adam, as a class, has pursued carnal pleasure to the point of moral blindness; thus they continue until enlightened to the truth by the Holy Spirit through revelation of the Gospel and spiritual regeneration (2 Th. 2:10 ff.).  Those regenerated by the Spirit are freed from bondage to fallen carnal-mindedness and enabled not only to perceive but to fulfill God’s moral law, entering once again into the sphere of God’s approval.

Paul provides various lists of behaviors and lifestyles which, being contrary to God, lie outside of the sphere of God’s will, and therefore threaten to condemn those who have chosen to participate in them (Rom. 1:24-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, Col. 3:5-9, Titus 3:3).

Creation itself is an expression of God’s eternal nature, benevolence, and order

  • Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, Acts 14:15-17
  • Paul in Athens on Mars Hill, Acts 17:24-29

God Allowed Men to Stray from Natural Law

  • Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, Acts 14:15-17
  • Paul in Athens on Mars Hill, Acts 17:29-31
  • God abandoned mankind to their reprobate minds, Romans 1:24-28
  • God concludes all in unbelief, Romans 11:30-32
  • The past of those once lost in sin, now made alive, Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12
  • The darkened understanding of the Old Man, Ephesians 4:17-22
  • Christ has delivered believers from darkness, Colossians 1:13-17
  • The unrighteousness under strong delusion, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

Fallen man is natural but corrupt

  • God destroyed mankind for their corruption and violence, Genesis 6:11-13
  • The natural body of flesh is corruptible, 1 Corinthians 15:42-50
  • The darkened understanding of the Old Man, Ephesians 4:17-22
  • Mankind is alienated from God until salvation, Colossians 1:21-22
  • Sinners are deluded to believe lies, not the truth, and receive due condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

God’s wisdom seems foolish to the World

  • God has chosen a way of salvation that seems foolish to the fallen world, 1 Corinthians 1:18-29
  • The natural man cannot understand God’s wisdom, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
  • Human wisdom is foolishness to God, 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
  • Mankind is alienated from God until salvation, Colossians 1:21-22

God’s reality is not necessarily what is seen in the natural

  • The visible world is temporal, spiritual things are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:18

Things contrary to nature are sins against God

  • Laws concerning marriage and divorce, Romans 7:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
  • Taking your father’s wife, Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
  • Due to man’s lustful rebellion, God abandoned them to sin and its consequences, Romans 1:24-32
  • Sinners against God, nature, and humankind will not enter God’s kingdom, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  • Those committing ungodly human deeds will not enter God’s kingdom, Galatians 5:19-21
  • Believers were once sinners, too, Titus 3:3
  • Believers must kill the lusts which cause sin, Colossians 3:5-9
  • God calls mankind to repent to escape judgment, Acts 17:29-31
  • Those who still sin but judge others will be judged, Romans 2:1-10
  • Believers were the same as the lost, until made alive by Christ, Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12

Works of the flesh

  • Works of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit, contrasted, Galatians 5:19-26
  • Believers must kill the lusts which cause sin, Colossians 3:5-9

Idolatry

  • Paul declares the Unknown God, and an end to the ignorance of idolatry, Acts 17:16, 23-31
  • Man’s lust led to idolatry and sinfulness, worthy of condemnation, Romans 1:18-32
  • Repent of idolatry, to escape condemnation, 1 Corinthians 10:5-14
  • Idols have no power over believers, but Christians ought not to profane God’s temple or offend the weak, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33
  • Do not associate closely with sinners, for sin is idolatry, Ephesians 5:5-8
  • Do not forsake grace for the bondage of idolatrous practices, Galatians 4:8-10

Eating meat offered to idols a matter of conscience

  • Do not violate your conscience, nor that of others, Romans 14:1-23
  • Do not tempt others to violate conscience, nor scandalize them, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
  • Idols have no power over believers, but Christians ought not to profane God’s temple or offend the weak, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33

Matrimony is holy before God, divorce is a sin against nature

  • One is bound in marriage till released by death, Romans 7:1-4
  • Marital bonds, cares, and obligations, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

Fornication, incest contrary to God’s natural law

  • Open sin must be purged from the church and unrepentant sinners disfellowshipped, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
  • Sinners will not enter God’s kingdom, and fornicators violate God’s temple, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
  • Fornicators and idolaters reap condemnation, 1 Corinthians 10:5

Homosexuality

  • Homosexuality forbidden, Leviticus 18:22
  • Homosexuality a capital crime, Leviticus 20:13
  • Homosexuality is unnatural, Romans 1:26
  • Male prostitutes and homosexuals among those who will not enter the Kingdom, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  • The Law is made to judge sinners, including those who “defile themselves,” 1 Timothy 1:9

Those who oppose God’s law and intent are aligned with the Devil

  • Judgment of Elymas the Sorcerer, Acts 13:8-10
  • Those once alienated from God served the prince of this world, Ephesians 2:1-3
  • Idol worship is sacrifice to demons, 1 Corinthians 10:20
  • In the Last Days, people will heed lying spirits and demons, 1 Timothy 4:1

Those Blinded by Satan Need Deliverance

  • Paul was called to turn people from satan to God, Acts 26:17-18
  • Israel is blind to the truth, Romans 7:7-9
  • The god of this world has blinded the lost, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
  • Christians wage a spiritual war, not in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
  • Our adversaries are spiritual, not physical, Ephesians 6:12
  • Sinners are deluded to believe lies, not the truth, and receive due condemnation, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

God will fulfill his Plan by redeeming the world through Christ

  • The Father has done a great work though Christ, who delivers the Church, Ephesians 1:3-6, 9-23
  • Christ has delivered the Church from the flesh, to bring us to God, Ephesians 2:1-17
  • Christ has delivered believers from darkness, Colossians 1:13-17

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Part 2

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

Noahide Laws

The Noahide Laws began with God’s proscription against eating or drinking blood, the symbol for life.  Over time, rabbis added fornication and other prohibitions.  Such laws forbade certain practices which Jews found objectionable when dealing with Gentiles.  The laws came to form a basis on which Jews could associate with Gentiles in business, if not socially, without being offended.  When Gentile converts in Antioch were being compelled to be circumcised, the Apostles at Jerusalem determined to require nothing of them but to abstain from idolatry, fornication, and eating things strangled or with the blood (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25).  Presumably, these items constituted their version of the Noahide Laws of the day.

God commanded the Jews not to eat blood

  • The life is in the blood, Genesis 9:4
  • Eat neither fat nor blood, Leviticus 3:17
  • Eat no blood or be cut off, Leviticus 7:26-27
  • Eat no blood or be cut off, Leviticus 17:10-14
  • Eat nothing with the blood, Leviticus 19:26
  • Do not eat the blood, but pour it on the ground, Deuteronomy 12:16
  • Eat no blood with the flesh, the blood of burnt offerings must be poured on the altar, Deuteronomy 12:22-28
  • Do not eat the blood, but pour it on the ground, Deuteronomy 15:23
  • The people corrected for eating meat with the blood, 1 Samuel 14:32-35
  • Those who eat blood and worship idols shall not be blessed in the land, Ezekiel 33:25

Gentile Christians bound only to the Noahide Laws

  • Paul and Barnabas at the First Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:6-31
  • Paul reports back to Jerusalem, Acts 21:20-25

Fornication contrary to the Noahide Laws

  • A fornicator must be disfellowshipped, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
  • Fornicators have no part in the Kingdom, they sin against their own body, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
  • To avoid fornication, the tempted should marry, 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
  • Avoid fornication leading to judgment, 1 Corinthians 10:8-9

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Part 4

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

Moses’ Law

The Law of Moses incorporated the Noahide Laws and the law given to Abraham (circumcision).

Origins of Moses’ Law

  • Began with the law of the Passover and the Firstborn, Exodus 12:40-13:16
  • Continued with commandments regarding manna and the Sabbath, Exodus 16:4-36
  • Elders appointed to help Moses render judgments, Exodus 18:13-26
  • Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God, and instructions for the Tabernacle, priesthood, and feasts, Exodus 24:12 – 34:28 (discontinuous)
  • Moses receives further commandments and ordinances, especially those regarding sacrifices, Leviticus – Numbers

Acceptance of Moses’ Law by the People

  • The people swear to obey the Law, Exodus 24:3-8
  • Moses calls the people to choose obedience and life, Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Joshua calls the people to confirm acceptance of worshiping God, Joshua 24:14-25

Sabbaths

  • God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it, Genesis 2:2-3
  • Basic law of the Sabbath, Exodus 20:8-11
  • The law concerning resting on the Sabbath, Exodus 23:12
  • The Sabbath is a sign and holy, Exodus 31:12-18

Jews Blinded by the Letter of the Law

  • The Jews are blinded by the “letter” of the Law to its deeper meaning, 2 Corinthians 3:14-15

The Letter of the Law kills

  • The Law works a consciousness of sin, and its judgment, Romans 7:8-14
  • The Law administers death, the Spirit administers life, 2 Corinthians 3:6-11

One cannot be saved by Moses’ Law

  • Whereas the Law failed to justify sinners, Christ has provided a new solution, Acts 13:38-41
  • Israel failed to be justified by faith, and has rejected their Messiah, Romans 9:31-33
  • Moses’ Law required the letter of the law, but Christ brought salvation through faith, Romans 10:4-5

Those who rely on the Law will be judged by it

  • Romans 2:12-13

No one can be justified by the Law, since all have sinned

  • All have sinned, but God has provided grace through faith in Christ, Romans 3:19-31
  • Grace overcomes the Law of Sin and Death, Romans 5:20-21

Under the Law man is powerless to overcome sin

  • We cannot do the good we want to do, due to the sin nature, Romans 7:15-25

The Law is meant for sinners, not the righteous

  • 1 Timothy 1:3-10

Those who keep the Law are bound to it

  • Romans 7:1-6

Those in the flesh cannot please God

  • The carnal mind is the enemy of God, Romans 8:5-8
  • The Spirit makes us children of God, Romans 8:15-22

Circumcision is a different Gospel

  • Circumcision is a different gospel, Galatians 1:6-9
  • Paul opposes Peter in keeping the Law rather than living by grace, Galatians 2:11-21
  • Abraham was justified by faith, before the Law, Galatians 3:1-26
  • The Law was a disciplinarian until the fruition of full heirship, Galatians 4:1-10
  • The Law is bondage, those of faith are free, Galatians 4:21-31
  • Do not return to bondage, Galatians 5:1-13
  • Beware those who lure you back into bondage, Galatians 6:12-16
  • Consider yourselves dead the commandments of the flesh, alive to God, Colossians 2:10-17, 20-23

Prohibitions on fornication, incest, etc.—parts of Moses’ Law still valid?

  • Taking your father’s wife, Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
  • Laws concerning marriage and divorce, Romans 7:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Part 5

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Law of Faith

Within the sphere of Paul’s of Natural/Moral Law lies the Law of Faith.  Paul derives the Law of Faith directly from the example of Abraham:  “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).  Paul notes that Abraham was declared righteous by God, though faith alone, even before being given the sign of circumcision (Rom. 4:9-12).  Therefore, on questions of circumcision, Paul insists that the Gentiles are justified by faith, apart from circumcision.  He declares that not only is circumcision rendered void by the grace of Jesus Christ, but those who rely on it for entry into the Kingdom of God, after receiving Christ, are “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).  Paul adds to his moratorium all the rituals, sacrifices, ordinances, and commandments exclusive to Moses’ Law.  Nothing but faith is required for salvation, since it is by grace.  Thereby the Gentiles who by faith fulfill the spirit of the Law, are saved without the letter of the Law (Rom. 2:14-29).  By the Law of Faith, “nothing is unclean of itself” (Rom. 14:14), believers are guided not by the letter of the Law but by a Spirit-guided conscience (e.g., Rom. 2:15), and can arguably do anything not forbidden by the Spirit.  However, whatever cannot be done in faith, believing, is sin (Rom. 14:23).

Faith is the basis of salvation and righteousness before God

  • The just shall live by his faith, Habakkuk 2:4
  • The just shall live by faith, Romans 1:17
  • The just shall live by faith, and the law is not of faith, Galatians 3:11
  • Whatever is not of faith is sin, Romans 14:23
  • Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, Genesis 15:6
  • Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, Romans 4:3
  • Abraham did not stagger at the promise of God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, Romans 4:19-22
  • Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, Galatians 3:6
  • Old things are passed away, Christ has reconciled us, He does not impute our trespasses to us, 2 Corinthians 5:17

Salvation is of faith, apart from works

  • Gentiles apart from the Law are justified by conscience, Romans 2:14
  • Circumcision does not make one a Jew in spirit, Romans 2:26-29
  • All have sinned, the Law of works cannot save, but the Law of Faith justifies, Romans 3:21-31
  • Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, Romans 4:1-3
  • Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness before the sign of circumcision, Romans 4:9-15
  • Faith was imputed to Abraham for righteousness, Romans 4:20
  • Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Christ, Romans 5:1
  • Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Christ, Romans 5:9
  • Sin is not imputed when there is no law, Romans 5:13
  • Gentiles need not submit to Moses’ Law, Acts 15:6-11

Anything which cannot be done in faith is sin

  • Anything not of faith is sin, Romans 14:23
  • No one can be justified by the Law, but can become Abraham’s children by faith, Galatians 3:6-11, 24-25
  • Righteousness is “of God by faith,” not by the Law, Philippians 3:9
  • Those who are of faith are children of Abraham, whereas the Law is a curse, Galatians 3:5-14

The Law of Moses is not of faith

  • “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” but by faith in Christ, Galatians 2:9-21
  • “The just shall live by faith,” but would be cursed by the Law, Galatians 3:1-29
  • Those who rely on ordinances and rituals are in bondage to them, Galatians 4:1-10
  • Those who keep the Law are symbolically bondservants, Galatians 4: 21-31
  • Reliance on the Law is bondage and powerlessness, contrary to Spirit life, Galatians 5:1-25
  • Paul did not rely on his own credentials under the Law, Philippians 3:4-9
  • Ordinances are contrary and cannot save, but spiritual circumcision can, Colossians 2:10-17, 20-23

The Law of Faith is contrary to the Law of Works

  • A legal issue such as diet is a matter of conscience, and believers ought not judge one another, Romans 14:1-23

Salvation is by grace, good works follow after

  • God calls whom He will, Romans 9:11-18
  • Israel failed to attain righteousness, not seeking it by faith, Romans 9:31-33
  • Righteousness is through Christ, not the Law, Romans 10:4-5
  • The Law is fulfilled in love, and breeds good works, Romans 13:8-14
  • We are made alive by Christ, from which flows good works, Ephesians 2:1-10

Those who are of faith are delivered by Christ

  • Nothing will separate the elect from God who justifies, Romans 8:33-39
  • Christ has broken down the barrier and brought the elect near to God, Ephesians 2:13-21

The Law of Faith empowers by the Holy Spirit

  • The Spirit enables deliverance from works of the flesh, Romans 8:1-14
  • The real warfare is waged in the spiritual realm, 2 Corinthians 10:3-7

By the Law of Faith, every Christian will be responsible for his own works of faith

  • The works of those who have the Spirit will be judged accordingly, 1 Corinthians 3:13-18
  • Those called of God are judged by him, not by human parameters,1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Those called to preach may live off the Gospel

  • 1 Corinthians 9:1-23

Those who are of faith are transformed by God

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-20

Those who are of faith are guided by an enlightened conscience

  • Gentiles apart from the Law are justified by conscience, Romans 2:14-16
  • The testimony of a pure conscience, 2 Corinthians 1:12
  • “Unto the pure [of conscience] all things are pure,” Titus 1:15-16

Those who are of faith are at odds with the world

  • The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and not for sin, 1 Corinthians 8:13-20
  • The believer must be separate from sin and sinners, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Those who are of faith should judge matters amongst themselves

  • 1 Corinthians 6:1-7

Those who are of faith purge contrary sin from their lives

  • Believers should cleanse themselves of sins of the flesh, unto holiness, 2 Corinthians 7:1
  • “Godly sorrow works repentance,” 2 Corinthians 7:8-12

Those who are of faith should deal justly in marriage

  • The married should be faithful and render due benevolence, 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
  • Singleness is beneficial to those who are so called, and use it honorably, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Part 6

The Pauline Concept of Law & Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law & Sin

The Law of Christ

Also within the sphere of Paul’s of Moral/Natural Law is the Law of Christ, which is intended to guide the motives of the believer in “that which he allows” (Rom. 14:22).  Paul considers that all the moral commandments of the Law oblige the believer to act in love, regarding the welfare and edification of others above his own.  The Ten Commandments, as well as the Second Great Commandment (“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (Rom. 13:9, Gal. 5:14), are fulfilled by acting in love (Rom. 13:8-10).  Again, whatever cannot be done in faith, believing, is sin (Rom. 14:23).

Envy, classes, and divisions are contrary to the Law of Christ

  • Those who are at odds with brethren are carnal, 1 Corinthians 3:3-4
  • Division among brethren breeds pride, 1 Corinthians 4:6-8
  • A self-serving attitude even at the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
  • The parts of the Body meant to serve one another, 1 Corinthians 12:13-31

Let all things be done out of love

  • No gifts or good works matter unless done in love, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  • Be strong, faithful, and do all things in love, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Those who love one another do not judge brethren in practice

  • Neither judge nor tempt brethren in regard to disputed matters of conscience, Romans 14:1-23

Those who love the brethren seek to edify one another

  • Support the weak and give freely, Acts 20:35
  • Support the weak and edify one another, Romans 15:1-7
  • Seek others’ welfare, avoid offense, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33
  • Let all spiritual gifts in the church edify others, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
  • “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:1-10, 15-16
  • Love one another, be likeminded and unified, watch out for each other, Philippians 2:1-4

Do all things out of love and gratitude for Christ

  • Christ’s love compels us to minister, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
  • The law of love toward one another, Romans 13:8-14
  • Walk in love and in the Spirit, not the flesh, Galatians 5:6, 13-17
  • Walk in love after Christ’s example, Ephesians 5:1-2
  • Let your love more abound, Philippians 1:9
  • Prayer for unity in love, Colossians 2:1-2
  • You have been taught to love one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:9
  • God has given a spirit of love, 2 Timothy 1:7

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Parts 7 & 8

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

Civil Law

During Paul’s ministry, Roman government represented a stabilizing and equalizing element which afforded Paul, as a Roman citizen, ample opportunities to travel freely, and a certain amount of protection from abuse.  Caesar, as well, he saw as “not a terror to good works, but to the evil” (Rom. 13:3), ready to punish the lawless and unruly.  At the same time, Paul bridled at abuse of his rights, under Jewish as well as Roman law.  One may only speculate that he might have professed, with Peter, the mandate to “obey God rather than men” if it suited his purpose.  Nevertheless, Paul did not perceive the government, apart from the Jewish authorities, as an obstacle to the furtherance of the Gospel and growth of the Church.

Obey civil authorities, with qualifications

  • Paul objects to violation of his rights (but yielded to Exodus 22:28), Acts 23:2-5
  • Paul asserted his citizenship rights, Acts 21:39, 22:25-29, 23:27, 25:1-26:32, 28:17-19
  • Earthly rulers are allowed by God to keep order and punish wrongdoing, Romans 13:1-8
  • Pray for rulers and conduct yourself honorably, 1 Timothy 2:1-3
  • See also 1 Peter 4:15, do not commit crimes and improprieties that incur just punishment
  • Compare:  Acts 4:19-20, 5:29 (Peter), “obey God rather than men”

Cultural Mores & Customs

The Apostle Paul was not in favor of license or Libertinism which in the name of grace flaunted the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered, see Romans 6:1, 1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13.  Rather, he upheld the best conservative moral ideals and traditions of the Jews as well as Gentiles.  His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of Original Creation and Moses’ Law, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly patriarchal societies, especially that of observant Jews of the day.

Matrimony is holy and honorable

  • One is bound in marriage till released by death, Romans 7:1-4
  • Marital bonds, cares, and obligations, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
  • Those who wish or need to marry are free to do so, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, see also Matthew 19:10-12
  • Marriage ought not be forbidden, 1 Timothy 4:1

Marital faithfulness demonstrates worthiness of honor and responsibility

  • “Espoused to one husband,” 1 Corinthians 11:2
  • “Husband of one wife,” 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6
  • “Wife of one man,” 1 Timothy 5:9

Families are responsible to care for their own elderly and destitute

  • 1 Timothy 5:4-8, 16

Men chosen for leadership should be faithful husbands and fathers

  • 1 Timothy 3:1-13
  • Titus 1:5-9

The deportment of women compared to men

  • It is seemly and comely for women to wear their hair long, and to cover their heads during worship; but unnatural for men to wear long hair, and inappropriate for them to cover their heads in worship, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
  • Women are not allowed to speak publicly in church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
  • Women are not allowed to teach publicly, or oversee a man, 1 Timothy 2:11-12
  • Women are admonished to dress and act modestly, 1 Timothy 2:8-11
  • Only elderly widows of good report deserve church financial support, younger widows should remarry, raise children, and work in the home, 1 Timothy 5:4-15

Incest disreputable even to the Gentiles

  • 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Summary Conclusions

Referring to the diagram, as supported by Scripture passages, one sees that God’s eternal will and plan for man, as created, falls within God’s moral and natural law, represented by the large yellow circle.  Elements of Moses’ Law, and cultural mores and customs, are overlapped by God’s eternal will, to the extent that those spheres ratify, or rather are ratified by, God’s plan.  Noahide Law, originally limited to a symbolic reverence for blood as life, remains valid in principle, though not in letter of the law.  Later additions regarding fornication and idolatry, besides being integral with Moses’ Law, can be said as well to be valid as part of God’s original, revealed will.  (Therefore, those circles partly overlap.)  The Abrahamic Covenant, which featured only one law, that of circumcision, has been transcended by the Law of Faith, which was the effective element all along (circumcision being the seal and testimony of the Covenant, the theological equivalent to Christian water baptism—as is, arguably, the Lord’s Supper).  Moses’ Law, which incorporated in totality the laws given to Noah and Abraham, was “fulfilled” by the work of Christ by several standards, including the fulfillment of Law’s overall prophetic, moral, and salvific purpose.  Therefore, those who by faith have entered “into Christ,” while bound to God’s eternal moral law, are free not only from the letter of Moses’ Law (the temporal rituals, ordinances, observances, and strictures external to God’s eternal law), but from the “Law of Sin and Death” that Moses’ Law actuates (Rom. 7:1‒8:4, 10:4, Gal. 3:19-26, et al.).

Therefore, the elements of Moses’ Law, apart from God’s moral and natural law, are rendered irrelevant and non-binding to the Christian, just as they remain ineffectual to observant Jews, who are unable to “keep the whole law” (Rom. 2:12-29, Gal. 5:3, 6:13, see also James 2:10).  Thus the Christian reverences life, but is not forbidden from eating meat containing blood.  The Christian honors the Creator for the Sabbath, as suggested in Genesis 2, but is not prohibited from work or travel on the Sabbath, a commandment added by Moses’ Law.  The Christian is forbidden no food, “for every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).

Those elements of civil law and culture which do not violate Biblical faith or a pure conscience are acceptable to the Christian.  Governments in general “are not a terror to good works, but to bad ones” (Rom. 13:3), though just rights can be claimed and abuse of rights disputed.  Christians must not participate in ungodly pagan practices, though innocuous differences may be overlooked if not made an issue.

One concludes that the laws for which Christians are responsible are those which make for peace and godliness, and which edify the brethren (Rom. 14:19, 1 Tim. 2:2, et al.), all of which surely fall within the sphere of God’s moral and natural law.  Christians are saved, like Abraham, by the Law of Faith, not by external laws or rituals.  All that is not done in faith being sin, a Christian ought to do nothing which cannot be done in faith, in the sight of God—not in unbelief, by which some imagine that they will escape judgment.  The ultimate criterion for all we do must be the Law of Christ, which is love and gratitude for Christ’s work displayed not in self-actualization or self-motivation, but in serving to edify, profit, and benefit others.

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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Paul’s Eschatological Sanctification

The Apostle Paul’s view of sanctification was an eschatological one:  because you have been justified by faith in Christ’s sacrifice, and thus entered “in Christ” (the present-future spiritual reality), you should then continually work to discipline your flesh, kill its lusts, serve the Lord, edify the brethren, and bear Fruit of the Spirit (the present physical realities).

To manifest their sanctification in this world, Paul expected believers to receive a Spirit Baptism and go on to “walk” in the power and revelation of the Spirit, in order to “not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”  The fact of that influx of power represents the “earnest” (pledge, guarantee, firstfruit) of the believer’s eschatological future “inheritance” (resurrection, redemption of the body, Eternal Life).

In Paul’s view, the spiritual believer is already “seated with Christ in heavenly places,” eschatologically, and therefore should think and act in that reality.  Meanwhile, there is no room in Paul’s theology for Entire Sanctification, in terms of a complete work of sinless perfection.  The believer remains at risk if he/she succumbs to deception of a false gospel, or suffers moral “shipwreck” and therefore becomes a “castaway.”

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes


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